American Pilgrims is echoing official advice from numerous sources to postpone all international travel. We will continue to pass along news from the official and authoritative sources listed below. We recommend you stay up to date on the virus using official and reliable sources for information. Keep in mind there is a lot of misinformation, speculation and inaccuracies on the internet. Use your best judgment. The US State Department has in place a Level 3 advisory for Spain: Reconsider travel to Spain due to COVID-19.

On January 15, 2021 the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs announced that effective January 26 all airline passengers entering the United States (including U.S. citizens) ages two years and older must provide either a negative COVID-19 viral test taken within three days of travel or provide a positive test result and documentation from a licensed health care provider or public health official of having recovered from COVID-19 in the 90 days preceding travel. This means that within the three days prior to returning to the US, you will have to locate a COVID testing facility. These tests are not cheap. US embassy websites and the website of the CDC have information about the requirement.

Remember that Spain is subject to entry and cross national border restrictions put in place by the EU.

As the situation in Spain is subject to change – forward or backward – at any time, we suggest “El País” in English for up-to-date general news. As of the start of 2021 the situation in Spain has once again regressed. The Prime Minister on October 25th declared a state of alarm, in effect until next May, which gives local states and localities to make decisions about COVID restrictions.

April 2nd in El País: “Fears of fourth coronavirus wave grow as Spain enters high-risk situation“.

At present travel between regions of the country is somewhat restricted. The first week of January the premier of Castilla y León announced that the region will remain under a perimetral lockdown until May. At present one will likely not be able to legally cross that region’s borders.

Most important for travel plans is that around January 20th, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said that he envisions Spain welcoming tourists – and that would include pilgrims – back to Spain at the end of the summer. The trigger will be Spain attaining a vaccination rate of 70%. The Minister of Tourism disagreed with that assessment — so you’ll have to decide who is in charge.

What will late-summer and later bring? No one can really answer this question but there is some hope that travel into and within the EU will be feasible possibly by late summer. It is more likely of course the further out you go. Much of this will depend on vaccination rates. The EU as a whole and Spain and Portugal individually are at present (March 20th) are all at about 12% having received a single dose. The US is at about 35%.

The European Union approved a list of countries whose passport holders will be allowed into the EU. The United States is not on that list. At present US passport holders, with only very special and specific exceptions, are disallowed entry into the EU. This restriction is very likely to linger well into 2021. At present U.S. citizens cannot enter Spain unless they meet very specific requirements or have already obtained special permission from the Spanish Embassy.
See: https://es.usembassy.gov/health-alert-update-on-specific-measures-implemented-in-the-madrid-region-in-response-to-an-increase-in-covid-19-cases-29-july-2020-2/

The U.S. Embassy in Spain: https://es.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information/

While recognizing that this is the opinion of a single person, Ivar Rekve, the administrator of the Camino Forum is mildly optimistic about travel perhaps late summer, more likely in the fall. He does live at an epicenter, the city of Santiago, and is generally knowledgeable about what is happening locally and nationally in Spain. Watch his video of March 15th.

American Pilgrims local chapters are following applicable state and local public health recommendations and requirements concerning chapter events. We encourage everyone to abide by these restrictions.

This is a site (Spanish) that seems to be timely and comprehensive:
https://www.spain.info/en/discover-spain/practical-information-tourists-covid-19-travel-spain/#
The section “What is the current situation in each area of Spain?” about 2/3’s of the way down the page offers province by province information.

The Spanish government in conjunction with the Institute for Spanish Tourism Quality has issued requirements for ALL albergues in Spain. The term “albergue” refers to “hostel” style facilities, not only those on the Camino. There is no differentiation between commercial establishments and municipal or donativo albergues. These recommendations involve changes drastically different from the albergue experience of the past.
Hostels on the Camino: Health Recommendations
Hostels on the Camino: Sanitary Recommendations

The Executive Committee of the Jacobean Council has issued a guide for those planning on walking or cycling on the Camino. They have created a sheet with specific recommendations concerning items that must be brought with you and new procedures that will be encountered.

La Asociación de Municipios del Camino de Santiago (ACMS) has posted the following video on YouTube with the “Essentials of the Camino” as we go forward in the age of COVID-19. You can find more information on the ACMS website.

The U.S. State Department’s COVID-19 Travel Alert page: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/ea/novel-coronavirus-hubei-province–china.html

Some official and reliable sources:
• https://www.nih.gov/health-information/coronavirus
•  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
• The World Health Organization (WHO): https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
• The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control: https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/novel-coronavirus-china

Spain-specific information sources:
• The Spanish Health System is posting timely announcements in their Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/SaludPublicaEs
• The Spanish Ministry of Health (Spanish):
https://www.mscbs.gob.es/profesionales/saludPublica/ccayes/alertasActual/nCov-China/home.htm
https://www.mscbs.gob.es/profesionales/saludPublica/ccayes/alertasActual/nCov-China/situacionActual.htm
• Status of COVID-19 in Spain, including regional details (Spanish):
https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/50d6c4c5599a43f4bebf517daa3a97b6
• El Camino con Correos has posted helpful information on their blog: https://www.elcaminoconcorreos.com/en/blog/camino-de-santiago-and-covid-19
• “El País in English for current news.

We suggest doing a general search (e.g., Google) using the keywords <spain coronavirus> and in the result, choosing official and reliable sources.

The WHO recommends following these basic protective measures against the new coronavirus: wash your hands, maintain social distance, wear a mask as is appropriate and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

Stay informed to make informed decisions. If you are considering going to Spain, add into your thinking the possibility of contracting COVID-19 while you are in transit or while you are there and then being treated in a very unfamiliar medical setting. What will your medical insurance cover?

This is obviously a story that is developing daily. Stay informed and make informed decisions. Refrain from forwarding unreliably sourced information. Wash your hands – thoroughly and often!

NIAID-RML image of coronavirus
Photo credit: NIAID-RM

4 Comments

  1. […] 53.905. The previous one (2019) they were 347.585. That means a decrease of aprox. 84,50% due to COVID-19 […]



    • Gene McCullough on January 13, 2021 at 10:00 pm

      Yes, we are obviously well aware of the massive decline in compostelas issues. There were a total of 12 issued across April, May and June. We are assembling updates for all of the data to be found on our statistics page: americanpilgrims.org/statistics/



  2. […] With the uncertainties that COVID-19 continues to bring into our lives, our pilgrimage plans may be placed on hold, but the invitation to contemplate love persists. And for many of us, our dearest loves include the fellowship, magic and mystery we’ve encountered as pilgrims! […]



    • Gene McCullough on February 11, 2021 at 5:34 am

      Hello and thank you for the suggestion. However we will, I think, keep this page as focused on the COVID situation, primarily in Spain, and practical issues that might affect would-be pilgrims.